Monday, September 9, 2013

Rain Drops and Mountain Tops

Photos by Trina and Greg
Words by Greg

We tore ourselves away from the dry summer heat of the valley. Headed for the Colorado high country. Visions of towering mountaintops and cool afternoons. Starry nights through the tent windows. Steaming camp mugs on crisp mornings. Long miles of pedaling our bikes through wildflower meadows and fragrant forests on lean ribbons of singletrack that crisscrossed gurgling streams. What we got instead, was rain.

We arrived at our first campsite in the rain. Set up our tent in the rain. Then it rained all night. In the morning, it started raining harder. Fair weather creatures that we are, we packed up, threw the wet tent in the back of the truck with the wet dogs and drove to a nearby town. Where we ate. Lounged. Kicked back. Relaxed. Then, when the rain tapered off, strolled. Through meadows. Forests. Beside streams. Beneath cloud-shrouded mountaintops.

Late afternoon, the weather cleared. The sun came out. Flowers glistened beneath mountaintops still shrouded in cloud. Our hearts filled with hope. We drove out of town. Found a new spot to camp. Dried out our tent in the day's last rays. Warmed ourselves and our dogs by a small fire. Then we climbed into our tent, into our bags. And it rained all night.

Hmm. Fair weather creatures that we are… We packed up. Threw the wet tent in the back of the truck with the wet dogs. And drove to another town. This one further away. Lower in elevation. Known for a network of gravelly trails that don't really care if they're wet or not. And finally… (After a morning of eating, lounging, kicking back and relaxing.) …we rode.

And it was good. Storms blew past in the near distance. Clouds gathered and cleared. The soil was moist and grippy. We tried the toughest of the trails, pitting ourselves against the steeply rounded rock. We reveled in the wide, bouldered scenery. While sunshine spotlighted details beneath a fast-fleeing herd of puffy clouds. Wildflower meadows? No. Fragrant forests? No. Gurgling streams? No. But not one significant drop of rain fell upon us all afternoon. Yay.

Until we got back in the truck to drive home. And hit a hard, lashing rainstorm. Thunderstorm. Hailstorm. Windstorm. The highway awash in water. The wipers unable to keep up. Lightning flashing and cracking. We pulled off into the shelter of a shed and watched in wonder at the power of the storm. Sheets of water pouring down. Pinging and rattling of small hailstones. Gusts rocking the truck. The air rumbling with strength.

When the storm began to abate, we drove off. Under blue-black skies. Under beams of radiant sunshine. Under rainbows. Rumpled clouds. Curtains of distant rain.

Our plans for alpine singletrack… Dashed. Our visions of towering mountaintops… Unfulfilled. Yet our enthusiasm… Un-dampened. Happy to have allowed the rain to slow us to a stroll. Through meadows of wildflowers. Through fragrant forests. With time to observe the lives of small creatures. To look closely at raindrops resting on lupine leaves. At a bee snuggling into a flower for her night's rest. Time to listen to water burbling a rocky streambed. To drink in full breaths of mountain air. Happy to have let the rain chase us from the high country to ride rocky terrain below fleets of rushing clouds. And happy for a chance to observe the power of a storm… from the snug shelter of a dry, window-filled truck.

It seems we often leave home with expectations. But we seem to be happily able to set them aside. To roll into new plans as the world around us changes.

Dogs don't mind the rain -- as long as there are warm, snuggly laps by the fire to sit on once the evening gets chilly.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Summer Blur

By Greg

Summer, blurring past. A bright hot summer slid into a rainy monsoon summer. We've been out in it. Sun burned or dodging rain. We've been out in it, under stars, or lightning. In mountains or deserts, dust or water or wildflower meadows. Out alone, with friends, or with our trusty adventure dogs. As usual, we're out in it mostly on bikes. We've been out in it, but not enough, it sometimes seems. Enough, though, to be lagging on sharing it. Here are some of the pics that have slipped by as we've been playing.